Arlington, TX — O'Shae Terry and his friend were stopped last September by Arlington police officer Julie Herlihy because the temporary tag on Terry's vehicle had expired. Officer Bau Tran would also respond to the stop, and ten minutes later, he would shoot and kill Terry. For killing Terry, Tran was indicted this week on a charge of criminally negligent homicide.
“The Grand Jury’s decision, irrespective of the outcome, is viewed as an additional factual piece of information to consider by those responsible for the administrative investigation of this incident,” Arlington police said in a news release after the indictment. “We anticipate that the outcome of the administrative investigation will be concluded within the next few weeks.”
The incident happened on September 1, 2018 in broad daylight. Terry hadn't gotten in his new license plate yet, so he was targeted for revenue collection by officer Herlihy. When officer Tran showed up, however, he smelled marijuana and a stop for a ticket turned into a search for a plant.
As the Star-Telegram reports, "about 10 minutes into the stop, Terry started to roll up his windows. Tran grabbed the top of the passenger side window with his left hand, ordered Terry to stop, stepped onto the foot rail, put his right arm inside the vehicle and then brought it back out to reach for his gun, the video shows."
Instead of simply stepping off the vehicle—knowing he had all of Terry's information and could've followed up with him later—officer Tran pulled out his gun, stuck it into the vehicle and started shooting Terry.
The car had moved forward for just one second before Tran began firing the first of at least four shots.
Naturally, the attorney provided by the police union for Tran thinks this is a travesty of justice and the cop should've been able to murder Terry with impunity.
"Obviously we're disappointed that he was indicted," said attorney Randy Moore. "Things happened pretty quickly and once the driver made the decision to roll up the window and drive away, then that limited the options that the officer had."
Moore apparently thinks that Tran's only other option was murder.
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When asked why Tran didn't just let Terry drive off since police had his name and license plate, and could've found him later, Moore gave a ridiculous response.
“There’s an inherent flaw in that opinion” and said that if Tran allowed Terry to leave the scene, a pursuit could have started or a crash may have happened.
“He was shot because the officer felt his life was in danger during the commission of the felony,” Moore said, according to the Star-Telegram.
But Moore doesn't actually know that there would have been an accident, or a pursuit. This was over a stop for an expired sticker and the smell of weed. Terry hadn't harmed anyone and was simply suspected of possessing marijuana and had an expired government sticker. Had Terry lived in Colorado or Washington State, or one of the other states in which marijuana is legal, he'd likely still be alive today.
"No family, no mother or father should have to go through anything like this," said Terry's mother Sherley Woods.
Terry's best friend, Terrence Harmon, who was in the passenger seat as Tran killed Terry is also heartbroken.
"I think about him every day, every day, not a day goes by where I don’t think about him," Harmon said. "But as I'm going, I'm learning to live with it."
“He said he had marijuana in the car, marijuana was later found in the car,” attorney Lee Merritt said in October. “He had an expired tag. He pulled off from a stop that he shouldn’t have pulled off from. We expect law enforcement officers to come into contact with people who are breaking the law, and this was a situation where O’Shae made several mistakes. None of those mistakes should have been fatal.”
We agree. As you watch the video below, remember that Terry was unarmed and merely trying to drive away from police. Yes, this decision was not well thought out, but his mistake should've never been the death sentence that it turned out to be.